This week Wollongong City Council unanimously passed a motion in support of the Australian government’s investment in the recycling industry and “to express an interest that Wollongong be the site of a new Australian recycling plant noting a suitable site or sites for its location” (more info in the minutes here, item 23). We were very excited to hear this!

While jobs in Wollongong in mining and manufacturing continue to decline, there’s a new wave of employment opportunities in waste, recycling and the circular economy, that the region is poised to lead.

This is a new industrial revolution, where what has been treated as waste is recognised as a resource. It can and should be reduced, repurposed, recycled and reimagined.

The Illawarra has the infrastructure, the industrial buildings, an abundance of people in all fields looking for meaningful, long-term employment, and a community that values and supports sustainability. Now is the time for us as a region to turn to the industries of the future – health, education and the circular economy.

Green Connect has used a social enterprise model to create jobs for young people and former refugees in sustainable industries in the Illawarra for nine years. We set out to tackle the three biggest challenges facing the Illawarra and beyond: unacceptable levels of unemployment, unprecedented levels of waste, and an unsustainable food system. We create jobs, reduce waste and grow fair food. Green Connect’s parent company, not-for-profit organisation Community Resources, has used a “waste to wages” model to create jobs that help the planet and the community for more than 30 years. We know that doing the right thing by both people and the planet is not only possible but makes good business and community sense.

The Illawarra can and should be the home of green jobs. We fully support the federal government offering funding to kickstart recycling initiatives, and fully support Wollongong City Council welcoming those initiatives to the region.